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Bangla protesters run riot as 14-party agitation begins
Dhaka, November 28
Political activists set fire to two election commission offices in Bangladesh today, as the 14-party alliance began a new campaign to force the ouster of top election officials.

Britain appeals for calm in spy death issue
London, November 28
The British government appealed for calm as scientists discovered more traces of radiation and three people who reported symptoms were being tested for the deadly radioactive poison that killed former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko.

‘US spy’ shot dead in Pak
Mira shah, November 28
Suspected pro-Taliban militants killed a Muslim cleric in a Pakistani tribal area, accusing him of spying for the US forces operating in Afghanistan, officials said today.

£20,000 reward on Sikh’s killers
London, November 28
Detectives investigating the murder of a 68-year-old Sikh man in London have announced a £20,000 reward for information about the killers. Mehar Singh Kataria was murdered in his own home at Byron Avenue in east London on February 3 this year. His son, Harminder, alerted the police the same day on discovering the body.



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Bangla protesters run riot as 14-party agitation begins

Dhaka, November 28
Political activists set fire to two election commission offices in Bangladesh today, as the 14-party alliance began a new campaign to force the ouster of top election officials.

The protests came a day after the Election Commission set parliamentary elections for January 21, defying calls by the Awami alliance to delay poll announcements until the commission was reorganised and the voters' list updated.

The alliance accused the Election Commission of bias toward their main rival Begum Khaleda Zia, who ended her five-year term as Prime Minister in October, and her Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BJP).

The riot police stopped thousands of protesters, led by former Prime Minister and Awami League chief Sheikh Harsana, as they marched toward the heavily guarded Election Commission headquarters in Dhaka.

Protesters scuffled with the police and broke through at least one barricade, but security forces prevented them from reaching the headquarters.

“We will not be deterred by any resistance ... and will launch a more fierce campaign from Sunday to achieve our demands,'' said Awami leader Mohammad Nazim, a former Home Minister.

The alliance has threatened to step up protests, including a new transport shutdown, if the Election Commission goes ahead with its poll schedule.

''Unless the Election Commission cancels the schedules by next Saturday, we will launch a new wave of protests, including an indefinite transport blockade from Sunday,'' Abdul Jail, general secretary of the Awami League, told reporters.

Earlier today, suspected alliance supporters set fire to district election offices at Burial and in Munshi Ganj district, near Dhaka, the police said.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan will send a top aide to Bangladesh ahead of the election to help ensure voting is peaceful and transparent. — Reuters

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Britain appeals for calm in spy death issue

London, November 28
The British government appealed for calm as scientists discovered more traces of radiation and three people who reported symptoms were being tested for the deadly radioactive poison that killed former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko.

The government announced a formal inquest into his death and Home Secretary John Reid, in a special address on Monday to the House of Commons, warned against rushing to conclusions over who might be responsible for the death of the 43-year-old former KGB agent turned Kremlin critic. He died after falling ill from what doctors said was polonium-210 poisoning.

The substance is deadly if ingested or inhaled. Reid said the tests on the three people were only a precaution. High doses of polonium-210 -a rare radioactive element usually manufactured in specialized nuclear facilities -were found in Litvinenko’s body.

“The nature of this radiation is such that it does not travel over long distances, a few cm at most, and therefore there is no need for public alarm,” Reid told lawmakers in the House of Commons.

Traces of radiation were found at a bar in London’s Millennium Hotel, a branch of Its Sushi restaurant near Piccadilly Circus, Litvinenko’s house in North London and a section of the hospital where he was treated after he fell ill on November 1, 2006.

The sushi restaurant and part of the hospital have been closed for decontamination while tests are still underway to determine if the hotel needs to be decontaminated. Two other sites – an office block in London’s West End and a building in the posh Mayfair neighbourhood - also showed traces of radiation, police said.

“They said there was only a trace,’’ said Alan Cumbersome, a 27-year-old computer technician who works in the building at 25 Governor Street in Mayfair.

The Governor Street office building contains a business intelligence company, Titan International and Erin's UK, an international security and risk management company. Erin's confirmed that Litvinenko had visited the office “on a matter totally unrelated to issues now being investigated by the police’’ and said none of its staff was ill. It declined to elaborate.

Hundreds of people have called a health hotline over concerns they may be at risk from radiation poisoning but only 18 people have been referred to the Health Protection Agency. Out of those 18, three exhibited symptoms that health officials thought should be examined at a special clinic as a precaution, said Katherine Lewis, a spokeswoman for the agency. She refused to elaborate on their symptoms. The tests formality, and such inquests are almost always adjourned immediately,Top sometimes for months. — AP

 

‘US spy’ shot dead in Pak

Miranshah, November 28
Suspected pro-Taliban militants killed a Muslim cleric in a Pakistani tribal area, accusing him of spying for the US forces operating in Afghanistan, officials said today.

The authorities found the bullet-riddled body of Maulana Gul Thaheem, 47, in a ravine in Makeen, a village on the border with South Waziristan tribal district.

A note found on the body said Thaheem "spied for the Americans and he was a friend of Maulana Salah-ud-Din, and Maulana Hashim Khan", two clerics shot dead previously, accused of spying, the official said. — AFP

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£20,000 reward on Sikh’s killers

London, November 28
Detectives investigating the murder of a 68-year-old Sikh man in London have announced a £20,000 reward for information about the killers. Mehar Singh Kataria was murdered in his own home at Byron Avenue in east London on February 3 this year. His son, Harminder, alerted the police the same day on discovering the body.

According to reports, the victim was beaten around the head with a blunt instrument. The killers then wrapped a piece of cloth around his upper body and then repeatedly stabbed him through the cloth.

"He suffered several blows to the head with a heavy blunt instrument. I'm in no doubt that the person who inflicted these injuries knew these were severe enough to have killed him," a report in the Asian Image newspaper quoted detective chief inspector Carl Mehta, of the Homicide and Serious Crime Command in Barking, as saying.

Detectives are still baffled by the sequence of events, believed to have taken place between 9 am and 2 pm on that fateful day.

However, Mehta said the killers might have come from within the Asian community.

"I believe the answers to this brutal murder lie within the Sikh community." According to another report in the BBC, London Metropolitan Police, that is offering the reward, wants to trace two men of Indian appearance seen in the area a number of times before and on the day Kataria was murdered.

A retired tailor, Kataria had lived alone in his home after his wife died eight years ago. He left behind a son, four daughters and 13 grandchildren. Rescued apes flown to Borneo.

— By arrangement with The Independent — IANS

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BRIEFLY

Pamela, Kid Rock to split
LOS ANGELES: Actress Pamela Anderson and her husband, recording star Kid Rock, have filed for divorce from each other after just four months of marriage, according to court papers. The divorce petitions, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, cite irreconcilable differences as the reason for the couple’s split. “Yes, it’s true. Unfortunately impossible,” Anderson, 39, wrote in the “diary” section of her Website at www.pamelaanderson.com, under the heading “divorce.” — Reuters

40 bodies found in Iraq
BAGHDAD:
The bodies of at least 40 persons were recovered by the police in Baghdad, police sources reported. “Forty bodies have been found in several areas of the Iraqi capital between 6 a.m. and the early hours of this evening (Monday). The victims had been shot and carried signs of torture,” the police source said. Earlier in the day, another security source reported the discovery of five bodies on a roadside between Baghdad and Baquba. — AFP

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